Recently a lot has been written & talked about the future of Manual Testing. Manual Testing is indispensable part of ensuring a high quality software. On the other hand, Automation Tests help you cut down the release cycle time. But usability & human behavior cannot be automated. With reduced time-to-market there is an added pressure on enterprises to seek automation alternatives. With the rise & growth of new technologies, people are more interested in scripting. But Manual Testing is the input to Automation scripts. Unless AI technology matches a human brain, Manual tests are best kept ‘manual’. You cannot automate everything. Cut the crap! Whatever be the debate but still Manual testers are finding it hard to stay relevant in today’s job market. Why?
Manual Testing vs. Manual Testers
Manual Testing & Manual Testers are two separate entities. The growing debate is more about the future of Manual testing than Manual testers. Manual Testing is a technology, a technique and a method to ensure software quality whereas Manual Testers are the actual human beings designing & executing manual tests. I agree with the fact that – ‘Manual Testing is NOT dead’, and it never will. But what about Manual Testers? I know it might sound strange at first 😉 but if you think it through – it’s a valid argument.
The new approach to House-keeping
Let’s suppose you hire a ‘helper’ for your day-to-day household tasks. I am sure you have since nobody has the time for dish washing & house-keeping. The privileged ones even have a driver & a cook. Say we IT professionals are the privileged ones 😉 so we have four helpers in total to look after our house & needs. Say we pay $400/week to each, totaling to $1600/week. Now let’s move to a different part of the world where an IT professional has hired a butler or a full-time helper to look after everything, i.e. dishes, house-keeping, cooking and driving. Let’s assume he/she charges $1500/week. Now what would you say? Is house-keeping dead? Or we are not cooking anymore? Or everybody is cycling? Nah! The work is still the same, just that the management is changed. Hope you got my point?
Manual Testing is NOT dead
Manual Testing as a technology will take some (a lot) time to be fully replaced by automation. Your automation scripts cannot ‘explore’ the software, right? Scripts don’t have a brain. Scripts cannot think. Scripts just do what is programmed. But your end-users are not programmed. They are living human-beings who can think and act depending on the circumstances. They might read this complete article, or stop in between & switch to some other website and then come back. They are unpredictable. In that sense, Yes, Automation can never replace Manual Tests (until the time AI reaches that pinnacle).
According to Steve Watson,
“As an industry we need to push testers back towards performing manual exploratory testing, to be complemented by automated regression testing, otherwise we are going to start missing defects due to deficiencies in the overall coverage.”
Not everyone can be a James Bach
Now that we are clear about the Manual Testing technology, let’s talk about Manual Testers. In earlier landscape, organizations used to hire different resources for Manual and Automation testing. Some still do – but if you are James Bach! Let’s face the reality, not everyone can be a James Bach (though nobody is stopping you). With people from all streams entering the Testing arena (thinking that it doesn’t require coding) we have a situation here. The supply has gone surplus. Now how to filter the best? Or even the average? Additionally enterprises have the pressure of maintaining the balance between the costs and the quality. How? Hire a Butler (a full-time help). Yes, organizations have now moved to the other world where they want people to first test manually and then same people to automate it. The world is moving fast where we no longer need a separate cook and house-keeper.
Master and Market | Skill Up
Having said that, I don’t think the transition will be sudden. But it has started. Though you can expect some relief in case you are an expert cook or a professional driver. Not every butler can cook well, a master chef will still be in demand. But beware, a master! If you want to stick to Manual testing technology, make sure to excel at it. Additionally just being excellent won’t do any good, you have to market your value. Why do you think a cook featured in ‘Master Chef’ makes more money? Unless enterprises or organizations identify you as a superb Manual Tester, the best bet is to learn automation alongside. The writing is clear on the wall – either be the best & well-known OR start learning other skills.
Please note that these are my personal views and you have all the right & experience to defer. But if you do, request you to please spare some time to pen down your thoughts in the comment section below. That way I might also get to know another perspective. And if you agree with me, don’t forget to share it with the Testing fraternity. You might also like – No Test Automation experience, will industry accept me?, Automation is not a cure-all, 14 Automation Testing myths, debunked!, Manual vs. Automation Testing, which is the best? and Career Alert!